The State of the (Hot)lantic 10 Week 3

By Michael Weber

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If there is one thing that we already know about this year's grouping of Atlantic 10 teams its that Fordham and St. Joe's are fighting it out for worst team in the league.  Other than that, there seems to be a split amongst the teams into two groups.  On one hand, you have Duquesne, Xavier, Richmond, Umass, Dayton, Temple, URI and GW all with winning records.  On the other hand, SLU, SBU, Charlotte and LaSalle with losing records.  I'd suspect over the course of the next 2 weeks, the groups will sort of shift into a three-tiered system with a "top", "middle" and "bottom" grouping of teams(with St. Joe's and Fordham being in the ultimate bottom).  Who occupies those slots is anyone's guess at this point.  It may come down to who has the best individual player in the league.  It may come down to the schedule, since the A10's is unbalanced.  It may also come down to coaching, and that leads me to something that is absolutely bothering me, and it has for quite some time.  Did you know that each team is given 5 timeouts to start the game and only 4 can be carried over into the second half?  That leaves a "use it or lose it" timeout in the first half.  Yesterday, Ron Everhart again decided to opt to not use a timeout in the first half, thus losing a timeout.  I find it so hard to believe that something productive can't get done when you are going to lose a timeout anyhow.  If nothing else, give your 8-man rotation a breather for 30 seconds.  Try to ice a free throw shooter, yell at the officials, do SOMETHING!  There is no excuse for continuing to lose a timeout.  That also leads me to this...What in the world goes on inside a timeout?  Well, Mike White, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette High School Sports writer recently sat down with a few high school coaches(one of which was a former college coach) to try to wrap his head around what went on inside a timeout.  (NOTE - I played for Paul Holzshu in High School and you can see what we did in a timeout.)  So with roughly 14 seconds remaining in the URI/LaSalle game, LaSalle in-bounded the ball to Aaric Murray, who then got tied up by some Rams players to force a jump ball that went URI's way with roughly 11 seconds remaining.  If I was a URI fan and had to hit the restroom, I'm probably figuring this would be a good time to go since URI will call a timeout(they had two of them), then LaSalle will call a timeout because they think they can gain some advantage by seeing how URI sets up their offense.  Good thing I'm not a URI fan because Jim Baron then proceeded to...LET HIS GUYS PLAY IT OUT.  For me, to not call timeout there is terrible coaching.  Since there was a stoppage, LaSalle had a shot to set up their defense(as opposed to after a made hoop).  Add in the fact you are playing a John Giannini coached team, and a timeout might do enough to out-smart the Explorers.  But, what do I know?  URI then shoots a clunker and loses 76-75 at home.  Only in the Atlantic 10...I swear.

TEAM OF THE WEEK:  Xavier - Has anyone out there ever been to the Reilly Center?..because I have.  It's a hornet's nest.  And, when you are the best team in the league and go on the road, you are that team's biggest game as evidenced by SBU being able to hold a halftime edge of 35-30.  Then, Xavier(and Tu Holloway) exploded out of the 2nd half gate and smoked the Bonnies to the tune of 79-65.  In their second game of the week, Xavier managed to get by Temple 88-77 at the Cintas Center in front of a sold out crowd.  2-0 this week for the Musketeers kept them in a tie for first place with Duquesne at 5-0 in Atlantic 10 league play. 

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Tu Hollway, Xavier - His team went 2-0 this week and he was a big reason as to why.  He scored 43 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 10 assists and had 4 steals in 76 minutes of action against St. Bonaventure and Temple.  He is the reason why Xavier hasn't fallen off a cliff due to depth issues. 

GAME OF THE WEEK: Xavier v. Temple - An 88-77 win by Xavier that involved 2 of the most talented teams in the league.  Xavier at one point had a 65-55 lead, only to see Temple take the lead at 66-65.  It came down to the end and the score was not at all indicative of how closely played the game was.  I still have to wonder if Juan Fernandez is anywhere close to being healthy enough to play, or if he is just running on fumes right now.   

DUD OF THE WEEK:  URI loses at home to LaSalle - 76-75 in a game where LaSalle was coming off an absolute beatdown at the hands of Duquesne.  Terrible loss for URI and for Jim Baron.  Read above for more game info on this one. 

SURPRISE TEAM OF THE WEEK:  Did you expect Umass to march into Charlotte and win by 19?  Because I didn't.

STAT LINE YOU PROBABLY MISSED OF THE WEEK:  This is a double-dip:  That's now 31 straight A10 losses for Fordham.  Fordham Fans, circle February 13th at home against St. Joe's.  You'll have a chance.  Also, take a look at this article from the NYPOST.  I think Fordham is telling a fib about how many people are in the seats. Also, 8 of 12 teams won on the road this week.  That rarely happens in conference play. 

WEB'S DUQUESNE FLAVOR OF THE WEEK:  The men's team is 5-0, and atop the A10 standings with Xavier.  Could we be headed for a February 13th showdown of unbeatens in Pittsburgh?  I wonder if the Duquesne Athletic Department is kicking themselves for scheduling this one at the Consol Energy Center instead of the AJ Palumbo Center.  I'm pretty sure Xavier fans are happy about that one since they've had terrible luck in the AJP in the recent past.  The women's team blew a huge lead against Richmond at home, but bounced back to thump LaSalle in Philadelphia.